Althoff Home Services Blog: Posts Tagged ‘HVAC’

3 Essential HVAC Tools that Provide Accurate Diagnostics

Wednesday, November 1st, 2017

At Althoff Industries, our priority is not only hiring and training talented technicians but equipping them with the highest quality tools to get the job done accurately. We ensure our technicians are not only well-trained and proficient in HVAC repair and installations but that they have the essential HVAC tools to assist them in the accurate diagnosis of your heating and air conditioning equipment.

While our trucks are filled with many parts, equipment, and tools, there are three HVAC technician tools that we use at every service call. They are the combustion analyzer, draft gauge, and manometer. These tools give us the ability to measure and analyze things happening with the system that cannot be seen by just visually looking at it. Our highly trained technicians understand that the proper diagnosis involves digging deeper to uncover hidden problems that impact safety, performance, and can cause breakdowns.

3 Essential HVAC Tools

1. Combustion Analyzer

A combustion analyzer is a handheld device that looks much like a multi-meter an electrician would use to check circuits. Like blood work being analyzed at the lab, the combustion analyzer gives our technicians all the components of the combustion process at once. The three main components checked are carbon monoxide levels, oxygen levels, and flue temperature. A trained technician knows that having just one of those numbers doesn’t tell you the whole story. It takes putting all the pieces together to accurately understand what’s happening. The purpose of the combustion analysis unit is to measure the percentages of oxygen and carbon dioxide along with the flue temperature. These measurements help our technicians determine whether or not the furnace is operating within the parameters that the manufacturer of the equipment has specified.

A combustion analyzer is important for three different reasons. It can help in determining and achieving optimum fuel efficiency, it is critical for the safe operation of your equipment, and it can ensure your HVAC system is operating within the guidelines of any warranty.

2. Draft Gauge

A draft gauge is a device that verifies that your chimney has proper draft pressure. Improper draft can be caused by lack of combustion air, too much combustion air, outside temperature and wind conditions, or a blocked chimney. A proper draft is critical to make sure the by products of combustion are safely disposed of outside the home. Most companies just assume this is happening correctly, at Althoff our technicians are trained to verify it. HVAC tools like a draft gauge help our technician determine if there are any problems creating these potential draft issues.

3. Manometer

The manometer is a device used to measure differences in pressure. We use this in a couple different ways. First, we use it to measure duct static pressure to make sure that you have proper air flow through the furnace and duct system. Another way is by measuring gas pressure to the equipment. Equipment is rated for certain gas pressures and those outside of those ranges can have very negative effects on performance, safety, longevity of the equipment

Other Trade Tools Used on Daily Basis

The three critical HVAC tools listed above are just part of what technicians need to perform their job on a daily basis. Other such tools may include:

  • A refrigerant recovery machine
  • Hand seamer
  • Swage tools
  • Leak detectors
  • Hand and power tools
  • Tin snips
  • Multimeter
  • Humidity and temperature gauges…and more!

Our technicians in the field often play the role of part technician, mechanic, sheet metal worker, detective, and chemist/scientist. It is why they are so extensively trained and outfitted with the latest equipment. It is not an inexpensive proposition but we take what we do very seriously here at Althoff Industries. After all, it is not just the efficient operation of your HVAC equipment that is at stake. It is also the safety of your family.

When you experience an issue with your furnace, trust the experts at Althoff Industries.

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2 Important Reasons Why Your HVAC Technician Measures Draft

Thursday, October 26th, 2017

One of the most important aspects of your furnace is how it drafts. When air drafts properly from your gas furnace or gas water heater, spent oxygen and carbon monoxide go up a chimney or chimney pipe where it is dispersed outside your home. As most are aware, too much carbon monoxide in an enclosed area can have tragic results. The importance of proper drafting of a furnace can not be overstated for both operating efficiency and monitoring safe conditions.

How do we know, however, that a gas furnace has the appropriate draft pressure and draft intensity to operate efficiently and safely? It can be done using a furnace diagnostic tool called a draft gauge. A modern draft gauge is a digital device that helps a technician conduct a draft test, measuring aspects like draft pressure, draft intensity, backdrafting, and the percentage of oxygen and carbon monoxide. A draft test is a critical part of any furnace maintenance or tune-up.

How Does a Draft Gauge Work?

A differential pressure draft gauge measures the difference in the pressures of the air flowing inside a chimney or ductwork and that of the air on the outside. A draft gauge will not tell our technician what the specific cause of the draft issue is, only that there is some issue causing a draft pressure problem. The technician will then rely on his training, experience, and knowledge to discover the source of the draft problem.

Common Causes of Poor Drafting in a Furnace

A variety of causes can create poor drafting for a furnace. These can include extremes in indoor and outdoor temperatures, blockage of the vent pipe, loss of a vent or chimney cap, high winds, and others. This can cause poor ventilation or backdrafting, causing harmful gasses to spill back into the home.

While a slow or diminished draft can cause safety issues, excessive drafts can create inefficiencies in your furnace. If too much air is delivered to the burner fan, it can result in air leaking into the heating plant. This reduces the amount of CO2 and creates an increased stack temperature. This, in turn, results in poor efficiency of the furnace.

Why a Draft Gauge is often Used with a Combustion Analyzer

A draft gauge is often used with combustion analyzer so a technician can better determine the extent of the poor drafting and see its effect on the air in a room. Depending on the readings of the combustion analyzer, it can direct the technician to check on potential issues with the heat exchanger. It can also be an indication there may be a gas pressure issue or a combustion air problem. A high carbon monoxide parts-per-million reading on a combustion analyzer could also mean that a furnace is recirculating flue products and re-burning them in the heat exchanger. We’ve created a brief video on how a draft gauge and combustion analyzer work together as terrific furnace diagnostic tools in helping direct us to the heart of many furnace issues promptly. This saves us time and you money.

Monitoring Safe Conditions

Many Chicago area homeowners will schedule a fall furnace check-up or tune-up to head off potential maintenance issues in the winter and to ensure their furnace is operating at peak efficiency. Another important aspect of an annual furnace check-up, however, is that it monitors the safety of you and your family. It determines the quality of the draft of your furnace, making sure it is operating without putting harmful gasses back into your home.

If you have yet to have a furnace maintenance check this fall, we invite you to contact the well-trained, well-equipped team at Althoff Industries.

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The #1 Way to Improve Air Flow in Your Home

Tuesday, October 17th, 2017

Many homeowners don’t fully appreciate the importance of airflow when it comes to the performance of their HVAC system and ultimately, the comfort of each room in your home. The fact is, if you have one room or many rooms that are less comfortable than others, it is quite possible it is an issue with airflow. Free airflow is disturbed by two basic forces friction and turbulence. What are some of the causes of poor or restrictive airflow in a home and how can it be improved? What is the #1 way to improve airflow in your home?

To find out the #1 way to improve airflow, we will first discuss 5 causes of poor airflow. At Althoff, our goal is always to get to the root of the problem first then provide solutions to improve comfort, function and performance of your equipment.

5 Causes of Poor Airflow

5. Duct Work That is Improperly Installed or Blocked

This happens more frequently than you may think. Improperly installed ductwork may not be sized properly or may even not be connected correctly. We have seen ductwork runs that seem to simply and mysteriously end! More common is ductwork that becomes blocked through the years by layers of dirt and dust or even foreign objects like clothing and toys. These improperly installed or blocked ducts create frictions that restrict proper airflow and will negatively affect the comfort of a room.

4. Lengthy Duct Runs and Those That Contain Too Many Turns

Some installers just expect too much from their HVAC, installing lengthy duct runs or duct runs that have too many turns. These turns create turbulence that doesn’t allow them to efficiently reach their desired destinations.

3. Too Few or too Small Return Air Vents

An efficiently installed and operating HVAC system with good airflow will both push air into a room and pull it out at the same rate. If too much air is being pushed into a room, it becomes slightly pressurized and uncomfortable. A frequent problem with rooms with poor air flow is that of having too few or too small return air vents.

2. Ducts That “Leak” Air

Over the course of the life of a structure, duct work can easily get holes or cracks from a combination of age, settling, and alterations to the structure. Duct work is often inadvertently punctured through nails. Like holes in a water hose, this leaking air can make the duct work and thus the furnace, much less effective in delivering treated air and in returning fresh air. It is estimated that nine out of ten homes have duct work that is leaking on some level. Depending on the number, size, and location of these holes, airflow can be dramatically negatively affected.

1. Dirty Air Filter 

While the above issues negatively affecting air flow in your home may take the assistance of a professional to properly correct, the simple, most effective way to improve air flow is to keep your air filter clean by performing regular air filter maintenance. Air filters are inexpensive and easy to change on your own. Ideally, they should be changed bi-monthly. If you have gone to a more restrictive air filter to get cleaner air in your home, it may be too restrictive for your HVAC system. If you have found some rooms becoming more uncomfortable, you may want to select a less restrictive filter. We’ve put together a brief video that helps explain why this is such an effective and simple idea to improve airflow in your home.

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Althoff Can Service Your AirFlow Issue

If you have areas of your home that never quite seem to get warm enough during our Chicago winters, airflow just may be the problem. Our technicians at Althoff Industries can check your furnace, airflow, and duct work to ensure they are working in harmony. If not, we will come up with a solution to resolve your airflow problem. Don’t just keep turning your furnace higher and higher. Solve your comfort issues at it core cause with an HVAC airflow check and a call to Althoff Industries.

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How Do You Define HVAC Contractor? This Definition Is Pretty Hard To Beat

Wednesday, October 11th, 2017

The Althoff Definition of a Quality HVAC Technician

You probably have seen, read or heard advertisements from HVAC contractor companies in the greater Chicago area that talk about their “quality”. They’ll boast of the quality of their equipment, the quality of their service, and even the quality of the technicians they hire. Quality has become a word that is so overused in the service industry that it often loses its meaning. When it comes to HVAC, through the years, we’ve discovered there is a big difference in what they refer to as “quality”, and what our high standards are at Althoff Industries. Our definition of a quality HVAC technician reaches beyond most HVAC companies in the Crystal Lake IL area.

Treating Problems at the Core Cause

At Althoff Industries, our technicians are trained to find the core cause of a problem. They are not on a mission to “find” problems that may or may not exist. They are not there to sell you something. From the moment an Althoff team member answers your call to the moment we arrive  at your home, we are there to resolve your HVAC problem at its root cause, keep your family safe, and restore comfort to your home. They are there to offer logical options and let you make the final choice. They are often asked, “What would you do?”. In fairness, every family has different budget restraints. Our technicians are there to provide you HVAC options that are safe. The choice is ultimately yours, the way it should be. Don’t let an HVAC contractor sell you on a solution that may be their own best interest.

Why Finding the Core Cause is Important

Our technicians are trained to find the core cause of a problem because without that knowledge, technicians often just treat the symptoms. Our Althoff technicians are there to determine WHY a part failed and WHY your HVAC system isn’t performing properly. When an HVAC contractor tells you you need a new part, they should be able to tell you WHY the part failed. If they say “normal wear and tear” and your furnace is less than ten years old, it should raise red flags. If they can’t offer a logical reason for the part failure and you simply replace it,  you may just soon experience the same failure sometime in the near future.

Technicians, Training, and Tools

Want to hear something you may already know? Some HVAC people are more interested in selling you something than helping resolve your problem. Shocker right? At Althoff, we have a client-centered focus that compels us to determine your problem at its root cause and then offer you the best options to resolve it. No hidden agendas. We do this through good people who embrace our mission. They have families and understand the challenges of dealing with unexpected issues like HVAC maintenance problems. Next, we provide our HVAC technicians with superior training and exposure to the latest available techniques and technology. That technology includes innovative digital tools that can better determine exactly what is going on with your HVAC system. These tools accurately determine the underlying cause of your problem. We are not just guessing. We use precise instrumentation to verify how your system is performing. We know you expect more than an educated guess from a “quality” HVAC company. At Althoff Industries, we deliver.

Discover a Higher Definition of Quality at Althoff Industries

If you have been frustrated with an HVAC technician who “guesses” at your problem, or simply replaces a failed part without being able to tell you why it failed, contact Althoff Industries. Our service technicians are trained and have the latest tools to diagnose your HVAC problem efficiently and effectively. Best of all, they offer honest solutions that can best fit your family’s needs. Expect more and get more.

Althoff Home What Makes HVAC contractors Different

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6 Items to Check Before Calling for Furnace Service

Wednesday, October 4th, 2017

At Althoff Industries, we make our living helping people keep their families safe and cozy with efficient operating HVAC systems. We have built our business and reputation by providing superior service that prevents and resolves issues, not creates them. It’s why many of our customers trust us for their annual furnace tune-ups in the fall. They know our extensive furnace tune-ups provide peace of mind. But furnace tune-up or not, problems can still occur.

Losing heat can be frustrating in winter weather but that frustration can be compounded when realizing, after the fact, that a problem was simple to resolve on your own. If you live in the Crystal Lake area of Northwest Chicago, before you call Althoff Industries or any HVAC company, here are six items you should check.

  1. Check the thermostat setting. Many families will reset thermostats when they leave for work or retire for the evening. Depending on your thermostat, it is possible a temperature setting gets accidentally way low or even takes the thermostat off of the “heat” setting. Before calling for furnace service, take a close look at your thermostat to make sure it is set properly.
  2. Make sure your furnace has power. Even if you use natural gas, your furnace is reliant on electricity. If that electricity is interrupted, you won’t have heat. It may just be that a circuit breaker got shut off for a variety of reasons. Check the circuit breaker for your furnace and reset it if it is in the “off” position. If it immediately pops off again, call a technician.
  3. Check your furnace filter. If rooms are not being heated properly, it could be because fresh air is not getting into the furnace. A common cause is a clogged or dirty air filter that is restricting air flow. Check your furnace’s air filter. You should be able to see through it when held up to a light. A common symptom of restricted air flow is when a furnace “short-cycles”, going on and off far too frequently to be efficient or to provide adequate heating.
  4. Check the pilot light. Gas furnaces have a small pilot light that should be constantly lit to provide an ignition source for the furnace. This pilot light is usually covered by a small door or metal plate near the base of the furnace, near the base of the base of the heating element. If this pilot light is out, you can try to relight it. This can be done by following the instructions on the on/off/pilot control on the furnace and using an extended barbecue grill type lighter or fireplace length match. Of course, if you have any hesitation about relighting your furnace, call a professional technician.
  5. Take note if your gas service has been interrupted. If your gas supply has been interrupted for any reason, the pilot light will need to be reignited. See tip number 4 above.
  6. Your blower motor may not be functioning. In some cases, furnaces may be producing heat, but that heat is not being dissipated through your home because the blower motor is not working properly. Stand by your furnace and when you hear it ignite, you should shortly hear the start of the electric blower motor. You should feel heat blowing from your vents. If you hear the furnace ignite but don’t hear the blower motor start or feel hot air from a vent, it is likely your blower motor. If you are an exceptional do-it-yourselfer, you may be able to replace the blower yourself. We, however, would suggest calling a professional.

A Few Final Tips Before Calling for Furnace Service in Crystal Lake

Winters can be tough in Crystal Lake and Chicagoland area but before you pay for a service call, take the above steps. You may be able to resolve the issue with a few simple checks. If the above steps are unsuccessful, write down the furnace brand name and model number along with the approximate age of your furnace and relay that to your service company. Let them know the steps you took and your results. This can expedite the service call, potentially saving you money.

If you experience a heating problem and need professional help, we invite you to call us at Althoff Industries. We have over 50 years of experience serving Northwest Chicago and have a highly trained staff of technicians with the latest technology to make sure your repair is done promptly and safely. When it comes to the comfort and safety of your family, trust the experts at Althoff Industries.

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8 Common Questions About Annual Furnace Tune Ups

Thursday, September 28th, 2017

This is the time of year many families schedule their annual furnace tune up. We can’t assume, however, that everyone knows what is involved in a furnace tune up or why it is important. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of eight questions and answers about an annual furnace tune up.

Furnace Tune-Up FAQ’s

  1. What is an annual furnace tune up? An annual tune up is a yearly inspection and cleaning of your furnace to look for potential problems and ensure the heating system is operating efficiently and safely. 
  2. When should I schedule an annual furnace tune up? An annual furnace tune up can be done any time, but most families schedule them in the fall, typically around September and October. Scheduling before cold weather hits, when HVAC techs aren’t as busy, makes it easier to get an appointment time that’s convenient for you.
  3. What is involved in a furnace tune up? This depends somewhat on the company that performs the furnace tune up. At minimum, a tune up typically consists of changing the filter, cleaning the furnace, checking electrical connections and voltage, lubricating moving parts, checking burners and ignition, inspection of the condensate drain, chimney, and flue, checking thermostat performance, visually inspecting the heat exchanger, checking and tightening all electrical connections and testing for carbon monoxide. Althoff’s complete furnace tune up also includes a combustion analysis on both the water heater and furnace to ensure they’re working safely, as well as a measure of the draft pressure on the water heater. We also measure ductwork system static pressure to check for leaks, blockages and other inefficiencies in the system. Not every HVAC company does a combustion analysis, draft check and static pressure test, but we include them because they’re the best way to ensure the safe operation of your gas furnace. 
  4. Why is a furnace tune up important? A furnace tune up is important not only for the safety of your family but to also make sure your furnace will perform as intended throughout the cold weather months. It can also help your furnace run more efficiently.
  5. Can I perform a furnace tune up on my own? While there may be some elements of a tune up that the average homeowner could handle, like changing the furnace filter, it’s unsafe to perform a complete furnace tune up without the proper equipment and training.
  6. What should I expect to pay for a furnace tune up? You may see furnace tune up coupons advertising $39 or $49 specials, but be cautious. Many time these coupon specials are nothing more than a way for an HVAC company to get into your home so they can recommend more extensive (and costly) repairs or services. Make sure you select an experienced company with a solid reputation. In the Chicago area, a thorough furnace tune up from a reputable HVAC service typically costs anywhere from $80-$140, depending on what’s included and if there are any special offers.
  7. Is a an annual furnace tune up worth it? A furnace tune up provides several valuable results: 
    • Save on heating energy costs. A regularly-maintained furnace will operate more efficiently, using less energy and saving you money on your heating bills.
    • Keep you and your family safer. A gas furnace that isn’t operating properly can can give off lethal levels of carbon monoxide and even pose a fire hazard. An annual tune up can find leaks and other potential problems so they can be addressed.
    • Prevent inconvenient breakdowns. No one wants to have to call for emergency HVAC service in the middle of a cold winter night. A fall furnace tune up can detect developing issues so they can be resolved before they become serious.
    • Extend the life of your furnace. Dirt and deterioration put added stress on your heating system. A furnace that’s clean and in good working order will last longer and have fewer costly breakdowns.
  8. Why should I choose Althoff Industries for a furnace tune up? Althoff Industries has been serving the Chicago area for over 50 years. Your appointment will be scheduled within a convenient 2-hour window. Our experienced technicians call when they’re on their way and then park the clearly-marked service truck in front of your house, not in the driveway. Your technician will greet you with a smile and a business card and will be dressed in a clean uniform with a name badge. We truly stand behind our work and do not consider a job complete until the customer is completely satisfied with our services. Contact us today to schedule an appointment, or call us at 815-455-7000.

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Sept 25 is National Tune Up Day: Is Your Furnace Ready for Winter?

Thursday, September 14th, 2017

Now that school is back in session and we settle into our Fall routines, it is time to think about the inevitable winter ahead. In fact, September 25 is National Tune Up Day for furnaces across the country. It is particularly important here in the greater Chicago area where our winters can be brutal. What can you do to be a part of National Tune Up Day? First, you can schedule a furnace tune up. The second thing you can do is to use #NationalTuneUpDay on social media to spread the word. This is important because a furnace tune up is not only a matter of ensuring a furnace is operating efficiently, but that it is operating safely as well.

Why Preventive Furnace Maintenance?

A thorough furnace tune up ensures your heating system is clean, operating efficiently and also checks that any impending part failures are addressed. A skilled technician will have the appropriate tools to test gasses to make sure they are safe and that your furnace is vented properly. Notice we said “thorough” furnace tune-up. Many of the $39 and $49 furnace tune-up coupon specials you’ll see this time of year are no more than a promotional vehicle that may just be used to “find” additional problems. This is why it is important you select an experienced company with the proper equipment and training, a superior reputation and a customer-centric approach.

How Often Should You Schedule a Furnace Tune-Up?

If the tune up is thorough, once a year may be sufficient. We recommend you get a furnace tune up in the Fall as we head into the cold weather season. This assures that your furnace is ready for the hard work that it will be performing in the coming winter months, keeping you warm without interruption. That’s why we feel September 25th is an optimal time to remind our customers, and potential customers, to schedule a tune up.

What Should Be Included in Furnace Preventive Maintenance?

A furnace tune should includes this extensive list:

1. Remove dust and dirt from the unit and vents

2. Check and change HVAC air filter.

3. Ensure fresh air intake grills are not blocked.

4. Check blower wheel and motor for efficient and quiet operation.

5. Secure wiring, check all wiring for any damage or wear.

6. Examine all parts for any corrosion or cause of corrosion.

7. Determine that drains and traps are in good condition.

8. Establish that fuel-jets are working efficiently.

9. Analyze combustion gasses and compare this analysis to what is recommended for your furnace.

An HVAC technician goal while performing this checklist should be to ensure you, the homeowner, that you have a clean, safe, and efficient heating system that will keep your family comfortable throughout the winter months.

Will a Tune-Up Prevent Future Problems?

While a furnace tune up cannot guarantee you won’t have problems in the coming months, you will be far better prepared to prevent problems. In many instances, problems may be age-related, meaning the older your heating system, the more issues you may face. That being said, the older your furnace, the more important a furnace tune up can be. Even on newer systems, however, a furnace tune up can maximize its lifespan.

Discover the Althoff Difference

At Althoff Industries, our technicians are trained and provided with the latest technology to appropriately analyze the operation of your furnace. We have built our company not on selling more parts, but by delivering better service. We are customer focused and are proud of our online reviews and testimonials. Before you observe National Tune Up Day with a coupon special, discover the difference with a comprehensive furnace tune from Althoff Industries. Contact us for an appointment for a thorough furnace tune up and enter the winter season with greater peace of mind.

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Warm Days, Cool Nights: Seasonal AC Tips for Energy Efficiency

Tuesday, August 29th, 2017

This is the time of year when those of us in the Chicago area can still experience some pretty warm daytime temperatures as our nighttime temperatures begin to get downright cool. Humidity begins to drop and the air starts to feel fresher. It can be tempting to consider turning seasonal AC on and off or to only use it as needed. We may even view it as a way to save energy. That may not exactly be the result. Here are some tips to stay comfortable in the fall, while also being energy efficient.

5 Tips for Seasonal AC Energy Efficiency

  • Let your thermostat do the work. Rather than turning AC on and off between daytime and nighttime, let your thermostat do the work and set it two or four degrees warmer. This will allow your residential AC unit to operate more energy efficiently while not having to work too hard to bring the temperature down inside your home during those warm days.
  • Use fans to circulate the air. With a higher thermostat setting, it may be a little warmer in your home during hotter early fall days. This is a great time of year to use your ceiling or oscillating fans to circulate the air. Since your AC will be operating less frequently, the fans can offer an assist in moving the air in your home.
  • Opening windows may not be the best idea. Opening your home’s windows can be tempting this time of year but if someone in your household suffers from allergies it could cause problems. It can also cause your air conditioner to work overtime if you forget to close them during warm days. An open window, even with a screen, can also be a security problem.
  • Change that filter. If you haven’t changed your air filter yet this summer, now’s the time to do so. Filters are inexpensive and easy to change and just maybe the single easiest thing you can do to keep your residential AC operating efficiently.
  • Check your outdoor unit. Fall leaves have a way of gathering around outdoor AC units. Be sure to make an occasional visual inspection of your outdoor unit making sure it stays unobstructed.

Turning AC on and off during the early fall can be tempting but it also can be hard on your equipment. By turning your thermostat up, using fans, keeping windows closed and maintaining equipment, you can get through these “tweener” months using your system efficiently.

Many times, a residential AC unit can limp into the fall, barely surviving the summer. That’s why this time of year is a good time to get an AC checkup so it will be ready to go in the spring. If you have any questions about your residential AC system or would like to schedule an HVAC checkup, please feel free to contact us at Althoff Industries. Spring, summer, fall, and winter, we’ve been keeping Chicago area families comfortable for over 50 years!

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6 Tips for End of Summer AC Maintenance

Thursday, August 3rd, 2017

Most people in Chicago consider air conditioning maintenance a part of their spring or summer routine. The fact is, the spring and early fall are both good times to conduct maintenance on your AC. End of summer AC maintenance, though, can ensure your system is ready to go for any “Indian Summer” days we may yet experience and is good to go in the spring. If there is a problem or potential problem, there is plenty of time to get it repaired or order any needed parts. If a residential AC maintenance check discovers serious issues, you will have time to make a repair or replace decision. End of year maintenance, along with spring maintenance can help your AC unit run more efficiently, last longer, and reduce overall maintenance costs. What type of end of summer AC maintenance should be performed and what are some air conditioning maintenance tips for this time of year?

Your End of Summer AC Maintenance Checklist

1. Replace the Air Filter

Hopefully, this is not the first time you are replacing your AC filter this summer but even if it is, now is an important time to make sure it is done. Changing air filters frequently is one of the easiest and cost-effective ways to help the performance of your air conditioner.

2. Make Sure Your AC Unit Has Room to “Breathe”

Over the summer, grass and bushes may have grown up and around your outside AC unit. This can eventually keep it from getting sufficient air circulation. Clear out any brush, grass, and leaves from the area before cold weather arrives.

3. Clean the Coils and Condensate Line

Dirty coils and a blocked condensate line can cause a variety of issues with your outdoor AC unit. End of summer maintenance should include a thorough A/C coil cleaning. While many will choose to “broom off” or “hose off” AC coils, at least once a year these units should be professionally cleaned by removing the casing. This is best done by a professional.

4. Listen to Your AC Unit and Give It a Visual Inspection

Look for any frayed wires, rust or animal activity. Listen for any unusual sounds or rattling. Look for any outward signs of wear or damage that may have occurred during the summer, especially from mowers and string trimmers.

5. Combine Your End of Summer AC Maintenance with a Furnace Tune-Up

More and more families are discovering the value of having their residential furnace tuned up for the fall at the same time they perform end of summer AC maintenance. This gives them peace of mind in knowing their entire HVAC system is cleaned, maintained, and ready for the seasons ahead. Things can get very busy quickly in the fall, and these are two projects that can be handled early and easily.

6. Call Althoff Industries

Althoff Industries can help you get the most out of your HVAC system with thorough maintenance and tune-up services. We’ve been serving the Northwest Chicago area with heating and cooling services for over 50 years. We were founded as a family business and have never wavered in our commitment to offer the best and most complete service available in the heating and air conditioning industry.

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Repair or Replace? Average Life of an Air Conditioning Unit

Wednesday, August 2nd, 2017

Some of the most frequently asked questions we get at Althoff Industries are related to the repair, replacement, and lifespan of HVAC equipment. This time of year in Chicago, questions about the average life of an air conditioner unit and whether the repair or replacement of a central air conditioner is better are common. It is not an easy answer because personal situations and equipment quality vary so widely but we can add some perspective.

What Is the Average Life of an Air Conditioning Unit?

Quite frankly, we have seen AC units that need to be replaced after as little as 10 years and have seen them still operating after 30 years. Both are extremes, of course, but generally speaking, it is safe to use 20 years as an average life-expectancy of an air conditioner. If your’s lasts longer, there are reasons to be grateful.

What Affects an Air Conditioner’s Life Expectancy?

There are three significant factors that will affect the average life of an air conditioner unit.

  1. The quality of the equipment. When it comes to mechanical equipment, quality will always be a major factor in determining the length of service. It is common sense that an air conditioner that is engineered and constructed better will last longer.
  2. Proper sizing and installation. If errors are made in an initial installation of a unit, it can dramatically affect how long a central air conditioner will last. It is one of the benefits of using a trusted, professional HVAC company for the installation of your AC unit. Proper sizing is critical, so don’t fall for “bigger is better” sales pitch. It has been shown that over-sized units tend to fail faster than those that are properly sized.
  3. Maintenance and service. A third significant factor impacting the life of your central air conditioner is how well it is maintained and serviced. Have filters and coils been kept clean? Has vegetation been kept clear from the outside unit? Have fan motors been properly lubricated? It is the reason a professional inspection and tune-up in the spring and fall are so valuable. When it does need service, any replacement parts shouldn’t be appropriately installed. It can be of value to you to have the same company maintain your unit annually, that is if you are satisfied with their service, of course.

Simply put, to maximize the lifespan of a central air conditioner, select quality equipment and have it installed, serviced, and maintained by a trusted professional. We, of course, hope you will consider the team at Althoff Industries.

Repair Or Replace?

Things get trickier when it comes to the decision to repair or replace. The EPA suggests that if the equipment is 10 years or older you should replace it. This is because of increasingly higher SEER ratings that are available in newer units and due to the fact that your unit is likely destined for complete failure in the next five to ten years anyway. Budgets and life situations may make repair the better choice, even if it is a temporary situation. At Althoff Industries, we will guide you through your options and the benefits and risks of each. The option to repair or replace, however, is always yours.

If your central air conditioner is 15 years or older, contact us for an inspection and tune up. It is possible your air conditioner may not be cooling your home properly or efficiently, costing you money every time you pay your electric bill.  We hear from many of our customers who had an AC failure and replaced their older unit. Afterwards, they said if they would have known how much they would have been saving, they would have made a proactive decision to replace years ago! Call Althoff Industries today!

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